Jordan Putnam put Durant on his back!
The first game of an action-packed 3-game heater hosted by Florida Hospital Center Ice on Friday Night did not disappoint. The game could have certainly gone any direction with the number of penalties collected through 45 minutes of play, but Durant capitalized on the special teams to take the game to the W column. Here’s how it broke down.
12 minutes of eye-for-an-eye shots faceoff wins, hits, takeaways, and one West Manatee killed penalty led to Oliver Appleyard heading to the box for holding after a long shift with exactly 3 minutes remaining on the clock. Durant would open scoring 49 seconds into this penalty with C.J. Communale feeding a pass to Daniel Schilling to let Appleyard out of the sin bin. West Manatee Head Coach Bill Karas recognized his boys needed to get on the board before the period ended to prevent Durant from having the momentum going into the second period, so that’s just what they did. Twice. Jake Hutchinson only needed 40 seconds to get a shot past Dillon Garasz, and his teammate Zachary Meinczinger put the second goal on the board with an unassisted wrist shot 16 seconds later. With only 1:04 remaining in the period after Meinczinger’s goal, neither team was willing to take a risk, and the first intermission came after an extended series of turnovers in the neutral zone.
Both teams started the second period more aggressively than the first. Recognizing the slow start of the beginning of the game, the West Manatee and Durant first lines upped the ante with skating and body contact, eventually ending the respective first lines opening shifts of the period with traded penalties behind the West Manatee net 1:04 into the second. West Manatee would send two more men to the box within the next four minutes, but nothing too exciting would go on the score sheet until Durant skater Eric Bowles got sent to the box for hooking. Durant special team’s specialist CJ Communale knocked down a pass in the defensive zone and sent a pass up to Jordan Putnam who was already breaking out of the zone to put pressure on the West Manatee Power Play unit. After cutting towards the net, Putnam would put his first goal of the night on the board for the 2-2 score. West Manatee wouldn’t convert on the powerplay but would score the 3-2 lead 30 seconds after the penalty expired with a strike from the usual suspect Oliver Appleyard and an assist going to Jarett Boehm. Jordan Putnam would score another goal, this time even strength, with an assist from Xander Wise. The period would end with the teams having 3 goals apiece.
The third period of this game saw 11 penalties, two powerplay goals, and a game misconduct, but here on the Lightning High School Hockey League editorial board, we try to focus on positive vibes only. West Manatee showcased an excellent cycle during a 5 on 3-man advantage and netted the opening score of the period at 8:33 with a goal from Mate Imre and an assist given to Zachary Fernandes. West Manatee and Durant then went to 4 on 4 after Jarret Boehm received a hooking penalty. As time was expiring on Durant’s penalty, Head Coach Todd Communale told forward Jordan Putnam to head straight onto the ice to begin the man advantage. What happened next will forever be ingrained in my memory as the definition of pure effort producing a goal. Jordan Putnam lines up to leave the penalty box with 15 seconds remaining on his high stick infraction, I leave my post next to the score keeper, and put my hand on the door. As the penalty expires I open the door to let Putnam leave. The speed in which he bolted out of the penalty box can only be compared to a famished feral cat being released back into the wild after wandering too far into suburbia. Putnam raced down the blue line, received a pass right on his tape, and made rapid work of the West Manatee defensemen. He got past the top of the circle in the offensive zone with the West Manatee bench silent as he approached the net uncontested. Jordan Putnam netted the wrist shot at 7:13, and the game was tied 4-4. West Manatee did all they could to get back in the game, but Durant put the final nail in the coffin at 2:44 after David Erwin passed the puck to Daniel Schilling for the game winning goal.
Durant- 5 (24 SOG)
West Manatee- 4 (32 SOG)